Kids, Language & Brains


A Proven Recipe for 2nd Language Learning


Although this approach represents an ideal beyond the reach of most, its value is in recognizing the lack of barriers between young children and other languages.  If children could simply follow around and spend a good deal of time with  a native speaker of a language other than their own, they would pick up the 2nd language without consciously trying.  That is, their own curiosity and desire to understand what the native speaker is saying, explaining, pointing out, etc., would be enough to motivate them to focus and acquire the language skills needed.   Children who have easy access to relatives who speak other languages  fluently are well positioned to acquire these 2nd languages.  Bilingual parents can share their language wealth by continuing to communicate with their children in their first language.  Their children, schooled to be confident and competent English speakers, readers and writers, to their great advantage would  grow up speaking and understanding the 2nd language and culture as well.


Why Start 2nd Languages Sooner Rather than Later?

A Spanish teacher, a native speaker who works with young children, was putting some posters on the board for the upcoming class when a young boy behind her asked a question in Spanish.  Surprised to hear a child from her country speaking and surprised again when she turned around and recognized the child from her class, she was amazed at how well this child had tuned in, adopted a perfect accent and spoken with confidence and no self-consciousness in his 2nd language.   Second language teachers  know firsthand how readily young children can embrace the sound system and language structure of the new language they are acquiring.  These teachers empathize with older students and adults who have to spend so much more time and energy to accomplish what seems to come so easily and naturally to younger students.